What Kids Need: Planning Skills

As a former school administrator for many years, I can certainly testify to the need for kids to develop planning skills.  In the high school where I worked for many years, we went to great lengths to provide each student with a personalized planner that they could use for the school and life stuff.  Like many schools, these planners would surface for a while, and then as the school year went on, they would disappear.  Many of the students who ended up in my office on a disciplinary referral from teachers, lacked planning skills.  Homework went unanswered, untracked, and grades slipped accordingly.  Working with kids to help them learn planning skills is paramount to their future success.  Think about how many adults you know who still do not have planning skills?  Appointments are missed, or overlapped and discovered at the last minute, kids’ events are often missed because of a lack of planning and on and on.

When a specific planner is used, either paper or electronic or a hybrid system of both, which is what I use, then events that overlap, for example, are discovered far in advance.  I recently found an appointment for January, this is early October, that I will be moved.  I contacted my service provider, and it was quickly moved to a new date.  Sit down at the very beginning of the school year and write down all of the dates that they provide regarding your child’s school year, and get them recorded on your calendar.  Write two-week notices in advance of important events, such as Homecoming, Prom, and other vital activities.  When parents take time to sit with their kids and help them to do the same, then things start to happen.  I have long felt that when kids fail to plan, the purposely lack a commitment to completing their work on time and with quality.  The Search Institute survey data says that only 59% of kids today have this asset in their lives.  That means 40% lack the necessary planning skills or do not take the time to do so.

Everyone in the family should have key family dates on their calendar and, as a family, commits to those dates.  For example, Tiffany has an important volleyball game, and it is also parents’ night, so everyone gets that date on their calendar, and let’s all commit to scheduling around it.  By teaching them commitments, kids realize that scheduling is always a commitment and that conflicts will also arise.  Family calendar building can be done at a family meeting once a month, or by the quarter.  I also want to challenge parents to require their kids to write their homework down for every class, every night and be able to produce that list upon demand from the parent.  Planning encourages commitment on their part to do their best and to plan for success.  Parents that do not do this with their kids are setting themselves up for kids who turn 18 years old and have no idea what they want to do.  They respond with, Oh, it’s okay, she is young and has plenty of time.  I disagree, when kids plan years, they take classes that help them to prepare for their goals, not just try them years later.  It is critical to encouraging integrity, commitment, determination, and a successful future.

I want to challenge parents to sit with their family and make sure everyone has a planner and is using it.  Put on those family dates, those key school dates, and any other commitments that are made.  If the kids are a part of a music organization or sports team, get all the performance and game dates on the calendar, so everyone knows.  You’ll notice a big difference in the stress level on the family as things will run much more smoothly.

Yours for Better Parenting,

Rich